Monday, April 23, 2012

Grindcore grinds out 5 laps at Tranquility

It's Monday night, and though my recovery road ride tonight felt pretty good, my back and shoulders are still pretty beat up from Saturday's Tranquility marathon. Worth it? Oh, heck yeah!

So the weather. Let's talk about perfection. At least for Laps 1-3.5, the temps were spot on and the wind was minimal. It would, of course, have to pick up at the end. But the thing I love about singletrack riding is that even when it's windy, you're twisting and turning so much that you don't have the same sort of sustained headwinds. And considering the last time I rode at Tranquility was at last year's over-100∘ degree race day, I was fine with a little wind. And definitely fine with the upper 60s/low 70s. Particularly after the season opener at Swanson in the 90s...thank you, weather. 

Because of the morning time trial (which Marathoners were exempted from for stage race scoring purposes), all classes of racers started in waves at the same time. Marathon was sent off between two heats of Cat 2 Men, and this was excellent placing for me. I got to spend much of the first lap paced by these fast fellas, mostly quite experienced and polite passers. To many of you in this group who know my name and say it when passing me, I'm sorry if I don't always say yours back. There are so many of you!! I digress...

Photo credit: Michael McColgan
I had fun in packs of riders, fun leading out little groups or hanging on the back of them, fun riding with friends like CVO and Whitney, chatting away, and fun trying to catch people (or as Whitney puts it, chasing boys) as the laps wore on. The course is so spread out that there were lots of friends I usually see that I only caught glimpses of, including some who suffered some gnarly crashes. To the likes of Janna, heal up, and I hope to see you out there again soon. (Also, wear your helmets, people. Hers is apparently in 4 pieces after a crash.)

At the start of my 4th lap, I was feeling pretty good. I'd paced myself nicely, finishing each lap in about 50 minutes with a little refuel break after each one. This, however, messed with my lap plan reckoning. I figured if I was taking about an hour per lap, 4 laps would be just about perfect for the 4 hour marathon. Shave off 5-7 minutes each time, and I came through the start/finish 25 minutes before the time cut-off.



My decision-making moment captured. Photo credit: Michael McColgan
And I had a decision to make. If placing in the women's race was all that mattered to me, I could've stopped right there. Casey is riding like a rock star, (taking on marathon in her first season racing!), but with a course this long, she was far enough behind that she wouldn't make it before the cutoff, assuring me a 1st place in that division. However, with longer endurance events on my horizon, things like saddle time and pushing myself to go on even when I don't really know if I want to are things I need to be doing. And I had a little herd of people encouraging me to give it a go. 

I hemmed and hawed for 5 minutes before having Emily refill my water and grabbing some more food. I had the goaders-on's assurance that they'd still be there when I finished and race official Darrell's comment that I'd "already be sore, why not add a lap?" so I started turning the cranks for a relatively solitary Lap 5. I spent a chunk of time chasing Brian from EVCC, but after a sloppy move on the camel humps that had me rolling down the side of the hill, he was out of sight, and I finished alone, to the very enthusiastic cheers of the small crowd of remaining bystanders and finished racers.

4 hours, 40 minutes, 13 seconds, 46.5 miles.

Big thanks this time to teammate Emily, who, after racing and ending up on the podium (yeah, girl!) ran to the grocery store to get ice for my cooler, the one thing I managed to forget to pack. Not only that, but she stuck around long after, cheering me on and helping in the feed zone each time.

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